How I’ve Stayed Cold & Flu Free for Over a Year

We all know when cold & flu season breaks out because it’s first noticed at work. The first coworker to call out sick in the fall is the early warning system that the cold & flu storm has arrived. Soon, a cascade of coworkers call out sick and seemingly only half to two-thirds of your coworkers are “in” at any given time.


Last year was also a year of heavy ups and downs in Maryland weather, something which I’m told wears down your immune system because your body keeps having to adjust to drastic changes in temperature. Despite this and the yearly plague outbreak at work, I have managed to stay cold and flu free for over a year now. (The only sickness I got was food poisoning, I’m pretty sure.) I’ve definitely felt colds coming on, but I’ve successfully fought them off in less than 24 hours every time. I wanted to share the tips that I believe helped me do this…other than prayer!


Zinc lozenges. I’m a huge fan of these now and take them all the time once the weather starts to get cold. The most popular brand is Cold-Eeze. According to the packaging, zinc is a mineral that kills cold germs when it comes into contact with them. So, sucking on a zinc lozenge a couple times a day kills cold germs in your mouth, thereby reducing the number of cold germs in your body taxing your immune system. I definitely credit these with saving me from the onset of many a cold. I move them around in my mouth, including under the tongue, so that they contact all areas of my mouth, wherever the germs may be hiding.


Sleep and take naps. I made it a real point to get as much sleep as I could and to never get less than 7.5 hrs of sleep a night. Obviously I fell short of that sometimes but I took it very seriously, knowing that sleep is the best way to fight off a typical sickness. This also means when you feel something coming on, take a nap as soon as you can. And when you’re sick, don’t lay in bed watching Netflix and don’t play video games or even read. Those things still tax your body to some extent and just delay recovery. Just sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, just keep lying there, eyes closed, and eventually you probably will. I can’t stress sleep enough. I went into many a nap feeling like something was attacking me, and woke up from the nap feeling completely normal. SLEEP!


If you have trouble sleeping in general, you can try what I use, which is an over-the-counter sleep aid called diphenhydramine. On the package it will just say something like “Sleep Aid” or “Sleep Aid PM” but the active ingredient of diphenhydramine is what to look for—it has been very effective to me. Of course, make sure it’s something you can medically take without any issues. A few things to note about using it: It’s best to take it 1.5-2 hours before you actually lay down to sleep because that’s when it really starts to kick in, and it will kick in pretty hard. It usually gives me 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, maybe getting up for the bathroom once but then falling right back asleep. However, it will make you groggy when you wake up, especially if you have to get up before the 7-8 hours of its effects are over. The grogginess is very noticeable and not fun, but it’s worth it to me for the deep sleep, since natural sleep aids like melatonin have never been very effective for me.


Related to sleep is the need to sleep in warm clothing. Last year I began the habit of sleeping with a beanie on my head. I had never done that before, and it seems coincidental that I also didn’t get sick. I’m now a huge believer. Most of the heat that escapes your body does so through your head and feet. So sleep with a hat on when the weather is cold or your house is cool, and sleep with heavy socks on. Also, the part of your body besides those two to focus on keeping warm the most is your chest. I will often fall asleep with my arms folded on my chest, circulating additional body heat in my chest area. This conserves heat and helps your body exert less energy to keep your chest (where your heart is) warm. So to review, sleep in a knit hat, thick socks, and focus on keeping your chest warm.


Flu shot. The last couple years I have started to take this seriously after my dad leaned on me about it. They are usually no more than $10 at your local pharmacy or grocery store, and might even be free under your insurance. Yes, I don’t like needles, and yes, the site of the shot hurts for a few days. But this is a small price to pay for the misery of flu symptoms like vomiting, severe aches and pains, headache, and others, not to mention using up sick time at work and unexpectedly having to buy Gatorade, Sprite, chicken soup, etc. especially when you don’t feel like going to the store or you have to ask someone to go for you because you keep throwing up. Short of a medical reason to not get the flu shot, you should get it. I know there is always a chance you get a different flu than the one the shot is designed for, but reduce your chances of getting any flu by getting the shot. I try to get it no later than mid-November because it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to the dead flu virus contained in the shot. You want your immunity up and running by the time all the Christmas parties and travel stress arrive. Really, getting it as soon as they start issuing it, which I think is mid to late October, is best.


Vitamins. I have no way of knowing if they actually contributed to being illness free, but I spend a little extra (you can get a good deal at Costco) to take multivitamins all year and a vitamin C supplement specifically during fall, winter, and early spring.


Stay hydrated. Hydration is always important, but it’s especially important when your body is exerting itself trying to ward off all sorts of germs. Drink plenty of water. Generally your water intake is optimal when your urine is clear or close to it.


So there you have it, some tips I used last year, and will be using in perpetuity, to keep myself illness free. All that time spent not being sick is time you can spend on other things that are important to you. So make use of these tips, and best of luck this fall & winter.

What Other Nations Know: Economy Without Culture Will Fail

Regrettably, this past week saw the suicide of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. His show Parts Unknown was (still is) my favorite TV show. In it, he traveled the world in search of authentic cuisine, culture, subculture, history, politics, and interesting people. I’ve seen probably 30% of the 11 seasons of the show, but this was still enough to make it my favorite.


My favorite one episode is when he goes to Shanghai, China. It has a more somber, serious tone than most episodes, and it addresses big questions. The opening montage of images and music establishes the themes: Unimagined wealth and opportunity, the future, and the fear of missing out. These are the conversations that play out during the episode as Bourdain visits with Shanghainese residents.


I come away from the Shanghai episode with a few strongly felt beliefs, most of which had already been simmering in my mind but were affirmed and magnified, even emotionally, by this particular episode. The newest of these beliefs is the seemingly unstoppable nature of Chinese economic conquest. Supporting this is what appears to be, although I haven’t been to China, a culture far more homogenous than what we have in America. Atop Chinese culture sits the authoritarian Chinese government, which will stop at nothing to win the economic competitions of the world and which has great latitude in dictating how Chinese culture is or is not preserved.


The thing that makes rapid Chinese economic growth different than our own is that they have retained their culture through the process, or in spite of it. In America, we have not done this, as evidenced by the fact that there is no longer a universal definition of what it means to be American. The only things we all have in common are the land itself, our form of government, and the rights guaranteed in our Constitution. However, if you ask a Chinese person what it means to be Chinese, you will get a longer answer. Our problem is that land, style of government, and rights alone a culture do not make. The Chinese have fewer political rights than us, but no one would say they have a weaker culture than we do. And therein lies the key to their future economic victories: They are supported by a strong culture. Sure, China has modernized a lot and the culture has changed. But it’s still recognizably Chinese to any external observer. What would an external observer consider recognizably American? Guns? Barbecue? Fast Food? Militarism? “Freedom?” These things are not enough to sustain the world’s largest economy (us) forever. “Freedom” increasingly means different things to different people, after all.


The Shanghai episode also highlights a mortal threat to our continued success as a country: The utter inferiority of our big cities (i.e. 600K+ people) compared to those of East Asia. On what basis can New York, L.A., Chicago, and even D.C. compete with the likes of Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong? They can’t, because our biggest cities have degenerated into powder kegs of racial anger, a “tossed salad” of subcultures with no unifying American culture, and the ever-present, unceasing rat race. Nothing in that mixture suffices as one definition of what it means to be American. It’s as if American culture means not having a culture. By definition, a culture unifies an entire people, but Americans are not unified by anything except the few things I’ve already listed.


The rat race is the single biggest contributor to the lack of American culture because it diverts us from addressing the other issues in a meaningful way. Does anyone really immigrate to America because they love American culture? People come here because it’s easy to make money here. In America, we have allowed the pursuit of wealth to blind us to the cultural degradation going on all around us. If you want to make money in America, you probably have to move to one of our big cities and sacrifice your health, sanity, and probably morals, for 20-30 years in the rat race before whatever is left of you can retire. Our small towns and rural areas have dealt with the resulting “brain drain” for a long time. As a nation, we should have been asking questions by now about whether this is optimal for our long-term national health, but our cities and states are too locked in economic competition to have the conversation. Plus, the whole machine has the media as its champion, continually lauding glistening city life as the path to happiness and prosperity.


Of course, China has brain drain too. In fact, many people in China move not just from the rural areas to the cities and suburbs, but even to other countries, like America, sometimes because of government oppression or the fear of it. But the people going from China’s small towns to her cities remain recognizably Chinese in culture. If I had to pinpoint the source of true “American” culture, the closest I could get would be in America’s small towns, i.e. “small town values.” If that is accurate, then the people who flee our small towns for economic opportunity in the cities often lose the things in their lives that made them culturally “American.” Our cities are insular, overcrowded islands of angst, narcissism, degeneracy, suspicion, and insolence. These same cities sucking the most talented young people out of our small towns and corrupting them is a sad sight indeed.


It’s hard to ignore Chinese success. The richness of other Americans doesn’t bother me, because I know that for the most part, they have paid a high price for it—basically, their sanity. But through at least the glimpse of Shanghai’s rich that I saw in Bourdain’s show, they seem to be both rich and sane. Of course, it’s a show, and we’re only seeing what the producers want us to see. But who would I rather sit down to dinner with? Five rich people from Shanghai, or five rich people from DC or New York? Shanghai, because I already know they are more cultured, seemingly more sane, and probably better conversationalists as a result of both. The only thing left that American culture teaches all Americans to care about—not just in the small towns but all Americans—is chasing the dollar. Ask yourself, who benefits from that arrangement? Not the average American, for the reasons I’ve stated.


In Europe, culture is way, way more important than in the US. At the same time, the US is an economic behemoth when put against even Germany, the EU’s strongest economy. There is no contest. There never will be, but it’s because Europeans don’t “live to work”—they make time for the things that make them culturally German, or French, or Spanish, or Polish, etc. China’s ability to stay culturally Chinese despite its meteoric economic rise is why, in my view, they are probably going to win the economic contest with the US eventually. America has exhausted its population chasing economic growth, and we basically have no national culture left. China has exhausted many things chasing success, such as its environment, but it still has plenty of culture, and the more of an upper hand they gain on us and everyone else, the more they can slow down and thereby preserve their culture even more effectively. So currently, I don’t see any way they can lose.


Add to this the specter of low birth rates haunting all advanced economies. America’s birth rate would I’m sure be below replacement level if it weren’t for immigration. Now in Asia, you do have massive birth rate problems, especially in places like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. The young of these countries can’t be bothered to slow down, get married, and start families in their mad pursuit of success. It’s worth saying that there is no point in preserving your culture if you have no one to pass it on to. So this is not an exoneration of East Asia’s rat race and birth rate woes and a condemnation of only ours. It’s a problem that affects both sides of the Pacific and that neither side is anywhere close to figuring out. And actually, the main culprit is right under the noses of all governments involved, but it is politically impossible to resolve, so I don’t see it changing under present conditions.


But take birth rates between East Asia and the US and use it as a study in contrasts. In China, they finally relaxed the One Child Policy into a Two Child Policy. Meanwhile, we have people marching in DC in insolent pink hats shaped like reproductive organs, demanding the right to kill babies in the womb. From an anthropological perspective, any people obsessed with destroying its own progeny is delusional and not living in reality. We also have people busily inventing “new genders.” You don’t have this lunacy in China, because people aren’t so numbed by nihilistic living and socially liberal indoctrination that they have nothing better to do with their lives. Then we have our media, such as our movies, TV, and music scene. These constantly pump degenerate idiocy into the lives of the young people who, as is necessary for societal continuance, should be getting married and starting families instead of trying to live out and identify with thug-life and street fantasies, or even yuppie fantasies. East Asian countries have been importing and trying to mimic our music and movies for a long time, but we’re doing them no favors by “exporting” these to them, no matter how badly they want them. No politician talks about the epidemic of single motherhood or single fatherhood or divorce in America or the indecency of our media culture. These things all represent large-scale challenges to the survival and perpetuation of our society, as they would in any society, but so few people do anything about it. That’s a lack of will and lack of agreement with one’s society that the Chinese, our greatest economic competitor, do not seem to be cursed with, and that’s why they’ll win if nothing changes.


I’m all for Trump’s desire to bring our economy back (which he has done much for and doesn’t get enough credit for), and to deal with our trade imbalances, but even he doesn’t address these underlying issues. It doesn’t matter how good our economy is if our society has no culture and no next generation to pass on our culture OR economy to. No politician I know of is brave enough to go on record with a statement like that. The Chinese don’t have to say it, apparently, because they aren’t making the same mistakes in this area. If China is able to get its birth rate above replacement level while ours continues to decline, we are toast.


Steve Bannon, firebrand conservative operative, has said a lot of things, and I don’t pretend to understand his ideology in much depth, nor do I agree with everything I know him to have said. That necessary disclaimer being out of the way (since we live in an age of guilt by association), there is one powerful statement he has said multiple times: “We’re not just an economy. We’re a civic society.” That statement is one that I have never heard a politician say any approximation of. In elections it always just comes down to the economy: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Economy is important, as any poor nation will tell you, but it’s not everything. Culture is a big missing ingredient in our society’s trajectory, meaning our economy is growing in opposition to what’s left of our culture. We are essentially in afterburner, expending costly culture to gain wealth. Somehow East Asian countries have figured out how blunt the “de-culturation” effect of rapid economic growth to a manageable level. We have not figured this out and show no signs of doing so.


Fortunately for me, I live in New Mexico, an undisputed beacon of culture. (I plan to write more on New Mexican culture in the future.) New Mexico is also a “poor state,” and tends to score in the bottom 10 states by multiple economic indicators. But New Mexico has figured out culture, and a lot of the culture here ranges in age from 100 to 400 years. I would like to see New Mexico be a more prosperous state, but not at the expense of its culture. Economies can come back, but once lost, culture is harder to retrieve, relearn, and revive. Contrast this with Maryland, the richest state, and the place I recently moved back to New Mexico from. Maryland has pretty much no prevailing culture, despite subcultures in places like Annapolis and “tossed salad” multiculturalism in the counties close to DC.  So as New Mexico struggles to climb the economic ladder, I think to myself: Do it carefully, or your future will look like Maryland, where the only prevailing “culture” is the rat race because there is nothing else that all Marylanders have in common.


A society can survive a bad economy, but no society can survive a lack of culture. Without anything binding them together, people will fragment based on their subcultures, just like a wrote about in my essay on Singapore and multiculturalism. I fear this is the path America is on unless we can re-grow a culture and stop sacrificing everything for the economy. After all, the economy exists to serve us, not the other way around.

Living Above the “-isms”

In previous posts I’ve written about the futility of political outrage as well as about the evils of political correctness and how to be free of it. In this essay, I want to approach these topics from a different angle and expound on why both political outrage and the political correctness liberals thrust upon us are not worth anyone’s time, including yours.


Instead of focusing our attention on the true problems in our lives, we tend to distract ourselves with political arguments that provide no net value. I don’t mean discussing political ideas as a hobby, I mean emotional arguments over politics. Our society’s biggest problems are not even on the election ballot, either in the form of a candidate or referendum, so in arguing about politics we are majoring in our minors.


Take two examples: Americans are drowning in debt and unhealthy foods. When was the last time you saw either of those issues on the ballot or heard a candidate address them in a speech? I know in New York they passed a law limiting the size of soda cups a few years ago. Examples like that seem few and far between, though, and they’re generally local issues only. At the national level, our politicians don’t talk about Americans’ personal debt or the obesity epidemic in our country (even though healthcare costs would probably be lower if we were a healthier country).


Debt, health, and even broken relationships are three of the things most likely to keep the average American up at night. But instead of focusing our energy on these problems, we waste it arguing with each other on social media about things that have little to no effect on our everyday lives, sometimes creating more broken relationships in the process. The only reason I can think of that we do this is because it’s far easier to argue on social media than it is to try to fix our problems. It’s as if getting mad about politics is an outlet for our emotions, even while it prevents us from addressing the issues putting us in that emotional state to begin with.


An integral piece of these political fights is the set of political, ideological, and philosophical labels we attach to ourselves and to others. I call these “-isms”—basically any word that ends in -ist or -ism. While an -ism has utility as a way to summarize a set of ideas, we spend a lot of time labeling ourselves with -isms, defending them, or labeling others with -isms and then attacking them. To me, a lot of -isms just boil down to theories about abstract “boogeyman” forces somewhere out there in the ether trying to “get” us. When you take a step back and look at it from a high level view, it looks ridiculous, and the average person simply doesn’t live their life with this kind of unhealthy preoccupation.


For example, I consider myself a capitalist. I believe that capitalism is the most effective economic system available. The only reason I would need to use that word, though, would be to summarize my views in opposition to other views. In reality, most Americans live like capitalists but see no need to publicly identify themselves as such. Now suppose someone tells you they’re a socialist. Socialism has its textbook definition of government ownership of the means of production of goods. But what does them being a socialist actually look like? They vote for far left candidates, argue on social media that socialism is better, go to protests, and engage in other political activities. But what about their enormous student loan balance, the broken relationship(s) in their life, and their health problems? What does their being a socialist, or my being a capitalist, do about those things? Even socialism doesn’t purport to improve medical care, it just purports to make it free or less expensive. And medical care is only one aspect of your health. In reality, all their exertion about being a socialist has done nothing to improve their life (other than maybe meeting like-minded friends). So my point is that it’s basically a huge waste of time to go around touting our chosen -isms or putting labels on others. Why are we doing this when there are much more important things we could be doing with our time, and even other, more effective forms of R&R in case we’re just doing it because we’re bored?


This leads us an inherent flaw of liberalism: It needs perpetual outrage in order to survive. Anger is its lifeblood. That alone shows that liberalism is fundamentally unnatural, because human beings are not designed to live in a state of perpetual outrage. Liberals have devised an entire zodiac of oppressive forces, but if you listen to them explain it, it just sounds like abstract theories about something “out there.” Rarely can they cite a personal experience of oppression at the hands of malevolent forces. In reality, their everyday lives are not much different than anyone else’s except for all the time they spend arguing about their political beliefs. Imagine what they could accomplish if they stopped caring and spent that time and energy solving the problems that keep them up at night, like finances, health, and relationships. And to be fair, there are plenty of conservatives and Trumpists making the exact same mistake by making everything about politics.


Most things in politics can’t hurt us unless we believe they can. That’s practically the definition of an illusion. But in the ivory tower of liberalism’s thought leaders, oppression must be invented and exaggerated in order to generate sufficient emotion among the rank-and-file to keep the movement going…and to continue providing liberal academics with posh positions… and reinforce the self-licking ice-cream cone of liberal media elitism… and funnel money to Democratic politicians. So the ivory tower liberal elites invent or exaggerate oppression, funnel it down to the grassroots level, and eventually it ends up in your News Feed, where the greatest achievement of humanity—Facebook arguments—can then begin making the world a better place…not.


Like I wrote about in my essay on freeing yourself from political correctness, you must learn to care about politics less. For anyone like me who enjoys the intellectual stimulation of politics, you must learn to keep it as a hobby instead of as an overlord. The key is how emotionally invested you are or aren’t. I wrote my recent essay on Singapore and multiculturalism because I enjoyed doing so, not because I was angry. That’s a big difference between politics as a hobby vs. an emotional flashpoint in your life. When I was going to GW, in one of my classes we were making observations about how angry people were getting about the 2016 election. One of my (liberal) classmates complained that this anger was unnecessary and unhelpful. “I get on social media to get mad,” he observed, in a moment of honesty that made us all laugh because we could all relate.


I could get really upset about liberal shenanigans if I really wanted to. I’ve been quite angry about it before. And I really do believe that if Hillary Clinton had won, we’d be well on our way to devolving into a corrupt, quasi-socialist, third-world banana republic. But my political anger has never accomplished anything except elevating my stress level and worsening my mood. It makes no sense to do this to ourselves when we a) already know how we’re going to vote next time, b) have volunteered if we wanted to, and c) have donated money if we wanted to. Voting, volunteering, and giving money are the main ways to affect a political campaign. If we choose not to do those things, great, but it makes no sense to complain if there’s more you could be doing but you aren’t doing it. If you don’t care enough to do those things, why are you complaining? I thought you didn’t care? And if you have done those things, there’s no use getting stressed out then either because you’ve already done all you can do. So you see that it never really makes sense to get stressed out about politics, and the same logic applies to our “-isms” or the “-isms” we affix to others or that they affix to themselves. Our society has a lot of problems and we sort of look ridiculous spending so much time arguing with each other about politics when it’s not the main culprit of our unhappiness. Politics has become a way we distract ourselves—just another form of quick & easy entertainment, and one that reaches across all our devices.


In conclusion, you can live above the “-isms ” by not stressing out about politics and, just as importantly, by not letting others project their “-isms” onto you. Consider “-isms” to be figments of the imagination until proven otherwise. (Although, don’t say that to their adherents.) Just don’t let it affect you and live freely with a free mind. Don’t be a cog in the outrage machine.